January 30, 2020

Is a Lamp ... Not to Be Placed on a Lampstand?

The Gospel at Mass on Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time: Mark 4:21-25

Today's Gospel reading opens telling us Christ was speaking to his disciples only and not to the crowds at large.

But today's reading is only the second half of what Christ was saying to his followers.

The first half was in yesterday's Gospel reading [Mark 4:1-20].

There had been a very large crowd listening to Christ teach.

But once he was alone with his apostles and other followers, he said:
The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything comes in parables....
We, the followers of Christ, have received the mystery of the Kingdom of God.

God means for us to accept the mystery of his Kingdom and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.

God wants this mystery to shine from us as from a lamp on a stand.

They mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.

It comes to us in the Word of the Lord, in the Gospel of the Lord.

Yet we also take, eat and drink the mystery of the Kingdom of God in the Body and Blood of Christ that we are now celebrating as the new and eternal covenant ... for the forgiveness of sins.

As we Do this in memory of Christ, he wants this covenant to be made visible in our lives and to come to light.

It is our mission as Christians to work at that.

The greater the measure by which we let the mystery of God's Kingdom shine from us, the more we will receive.

As he promises us in his Gospel today:
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you,
and still more will be given to you.
Let us use a most generous measure in offering ourselves in sacrifice to God at his altar here and in every hour of our lives.

May the Lord accept US in sacrifice
for the praise and glory of his name,
for our good
and the good of all his holy Church.

January 25, 2020

Christ Wants to Fish You into the Life of the Kingdom of Heaven

"Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea," by J. Tissot. Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.


Today’s Gospel shows us the beginning of the public life of Christ in the fullness of his manhood.

John the Baptist had been preaching the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Then the kingdom showed up in the person of Christ seeking and undergoing the baptism of repentance at the hands of John.

Then, with the leading of God the Holy Spirit, as the Gospel recounts elsewhere, Christ, God the Son, did not begin straightaway his “hands-on” public work and preaching, but withdrew into the desert to be alone with God the Father for forty days.

There he prayed, fasted and withstood temptations by which the devil tried to lead him to “repent” from the mission the Father gave him.

After the forty days, Christ went to his home in the hills of Galilee, but, as the Gospel says today, “He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,” that is, on the shore of the lake of Galilee.

There he started his public mission.

He began preaching the same message as John the Baptist.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Calling all to repentance, he sought to fish them into life in the kingdom of heaven.

Then he also began to sharpen his message of repentance for specific persons.

The meaning of “repentance” in the original language of the Gospel is “change of mind.”

While everyone else heard Christ say, “Repent,” a few Galilean fishermen heard him say to them personally, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

For them— Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John— to repent, to change mind, would be to follow Christ and to think of themselves as no longer fishing to eat or sell, but as fishing men and women into the life of the kingdom of heaven.

Christ would send them to do this new kind of fishing by preaching the same thing that he and John the Baptist preached.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

When the day came for the risen Christ to ascend to his throne at the Father’s side, he told his apostles “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations” [Lk. 24:47].

Ten days later, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, their public preaching was born from the “upper room.”

That day, Peter told the thousands of Jewish Pentecost pilgrims in Jerusalem what they should do [Acts 2:38].

Repent, and be baptized every one of you
in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Mark the shift of wording!

It is no longer straightforwardly that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Rather, “at hand” are: the name of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

To repent, to change mind, as baptized sinners, is to receive the God the Father’s forgiveness, God the Son’s name, and God the Holy Spirit’s gift.

The beginning of Christ’s own preaching, the beginning of the preaching he gave his Apostolic Church, and thus the beginning of heeding Christ and his Church is repentance.

Repentance lets us be fished into the kingdom of the life of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

When Christ rose from the dead and ascended, leaving in the hands of his Apostolic Church his own “hands-on” work and preaching, the Church, rather than begin straightaway to preach publicly, withdrew for a while into the “upper room” [Acts 1:13], the birth place and chamber of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

From the Eucharistic Body and Blood of the Son, the Spirit of the Father brings to birth the preaching and works of the Church, calling all nations to a change of mind.

this is my body
given up for you
this is
my blood
shed for you and the many
so that sins may be forgiven
Do this in memory of me.

Christ is fishing here in the Church, here at this Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Repent, and let him catch you that you may live.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

"Pope Francis uses liturgy to 'hear the voice of the Lord and feel welcomed'"

     Pope Francis isn’t typically thought about as someone who has prioritized liturgical reforms during his papacy, yet for Monsignor Kevin Irwin, the pope believes that liturgy is a means to extend his message of mercy on a local level.
     In his new book, Pope Francis and the Liturgy: The Call to Holiness and MissionIrwin - the longtime chairman of liturgical studies at the Catholic University of America - explores how Francis understands the liturgy in relationship to his two recent predecessors and how he’s using it in his own way to “hear the voice of the Lord and feel welcomed.”
Read the whole article here:

January 24, 2020

As It Was in the Beginning, Is Now and Ever Shall Be, Until the Kingdom Come

The apostolic Church that Jesus had before his death was a failure.

Among his chosen apostles one betrayed him for money, all ran away at his arrest, and one saved himself by cursing and lying that he did not know Jesus.

Full apostolic failure!

The faithful remnant was in Mary his mother, another Mary who used to have seven demons, some other women, the Pharisee Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea.

Then the Resurrection broke in from beyond both failure and faithfulness.

At times things may tend to be as they were in the beginning, as they may now be, and as they may ever be until our heavenly Father’s Kingdom come.

January 22, 2020

Christ Freely Took the Blame for All Sin, Even Abortion, and So Do All Who Truly Follow Him.

From "The Adulterous Woman-- Christ Writing Upon the Ground," by J. Tissot. Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

22 January 2020
Forty-Seventh Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade

The U.S. bishops have designated this an annual day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.

Mass for Peace and Justice

Matthew 5:1-12a.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

These beatitudes show us the heart of Christ.

They can fill, shape and guide our hearts as we obey the U.S. bishops today in fasting, almsgiving and other penances for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.

Let us note well that our bishops have asked US to do penance today.

They have not asked us to call the GUILTY to do penance.

Rather the bishops have asked us to do penance for the wrongs of others.

We here in this place, this monastery, are men, MALES.

We monks are to do penance not only for women who have defended, performed or sought abortions.

We are to do penance also for:
·         men who have performed abortions,
·         men who have pushed or forced women to seek abortion,
·         men who have raped and impregnated women,
·         and men who have impregnated willing women but abandoned them to deadly desperation.

Taking this to heart as men, we must remember that we follow Christ.

Christ is truly and fully the only innocent man.

Yet he freely took on penance unto death for all the sins of all men and women from the world’s beginning until its end.

To BE IN Christ and FOLLOW him is to embrace a share in suffering on the cross for the sins of the world, including OUR OWN sins, for WE are not yet the Blessed who are the clean of HEART.

Blessed are the clean of HEART, for they will SEE God.

Later in his Gospel, Christ would say a bit more to MEN, to MALES specifically, about the HEART and SEEING.

He said that every one who LOOKS at a woman lustfully has ALREADY committed adultery with her in his HEART[Mt. 5:28]


That’s a strong saying.

So, if we let our eyes and hearts sin, then we take part in the culture of death that aborts children whom our fellow men have conceived through bodily sin like unto the sin in our hearts.

For every one who looks at a woman lustfully has ALREADY committed adultery with her in his heart.

Just as BAPTISM plunges us into the communion of SAINTS, so also does SIN plunge us into the communion of SINNERS.

In our doing penance for the abortions that other men and women have supported, forced, sought or performed, we must not think ourselves innocent while we think them guilty.

Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.  [Jn. 8:7]

In our doing penance for abortion, we must take on the beatitude of Christ.

At his baptism, he— EVERLASTINGLY SINLESS— plunged into water that was spiritually dirty from washing sinners.

Everlastingly innocent, Christ plunged into the sin and guilt of sinners, thus becoming, as John saw and said there at the waters, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world[Jn. 1:29]

For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Christ we might become the righteousness of God.  [2 Cor. 5:21]

We who do this in memory of him and in memory of his Body and Blood on the cross, we SINNERS join him who is SINLESS in offering ourselves to suffer for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

God shed mercy upon the human soul and body in the resurrection of Christ to NEW LIFE.


If we would displace a culture of DEATH, build a culture of LIFE, and honor the right to LIFE of children waiting to be born, we must forever begin with OURSELVES.

Otherwise we act and build falsely.

It is we, then, who must always be the first to REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL!

January 20, 2020

Online Christian Communities: An Interview with 4 Leaders

I participated in an interview concerning "the ways online communities play a role in the Christian faith." Here-- Online Christian Communities: An Interview with 4 Leaders.

January 18, 2020

"For You and for Many for the Forgiveness of Sins," Because We Are Not Righteous but Sinners

"The Calling of Saint Matthew" (known as Levi), by J. Tissot. Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain

On the Gospel for Mass on Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time: Mark 2:13-17

Twice in the Christmas season that is not yet a week behind us, the Gospel at Mass was of the Word being God and dwelling among us.

In today’s Gospel we saw the Word come to Levi: Follow me.

The Word split Levi’s life in two, parting Levi the collector of taxes from Levi the follower of the Word.

Our heavenly Father is always sending his Word to us in the power of the Spirit.

Yet he does not come to overpower us.

Rather, he waits for us to choose freely, just as Levi chose freely to get up and follow.

The Word was made flesh in the power of the Spirit to dwell among us.

He waits for us to choose freely to answer as Mary did: Behold the servant of the Lord— be it done unto me according to your Word.

In just that way, the Word is made flesh and blood in our flesh and blood, and dwells in our flesh and blood.

He comes to eat with us sinners here and now in his Eucharistic Body and Blood, even as he once came to the house of Levi the tax collector.

Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?

He said:
Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.
He is here not because we are righteous, but because we are sinners.

He is calling us, not because we are righteous, but because we are sinners.

The choice to acknowledge we are sinners and to follow him freely is ours here at this hour and in every place and moment of our lives.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

January 16, 2020

The Root of “Authority”

"The Possessed Man in the Synagogue," by J. Tissot. Brooklyn Museum / Public Doman.

Do you know the Latin verb that is the root of the word “authority”?

In the Gospel reading at Mass this last Tuesday, Mark 1:21-28, the people of Capernaum’s synagogue are astonished at the authority with which Jesus teaches.

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet!  Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.

In that text, the original Greek word ξουσία (exousia) appears in the English translation as “authority.” Other English words that are much less frequent as translations of ξουσία here are “power” and “jurisdiction.”

In English we normally associate power and jurisdiction with authority. However, we may do so without knowing that the English word “authority” derives from the Latin verb augere, which means:  to make (something) grow, or to cause growth.  The English word “augment” also derives from augere. So also does “author,” a person who grows words into something greater.

Authority is a servant that provides to others what is necessary for their growth and by warding off what would hinder or harm their growth. Thus parents are the first and natural authorities of our material lives.

One can abuse one’s authority by wielding it in so domineering a way that one prevents or harms the growth of others. One can also fail to exercise authority by neglecting either to provide what is needed for growth or to ward off what would hinder or harm growth.

One never wields authority appropriately for one’s own personal advantage, but only by being at the service of the authentic growth of others. One wields authority authentically by being a servant who gives the advantage to the growth of others.

January 13, 2020

The First Gospel of Ordinary Time

"The Calling of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew" by J. Tissot. Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

Yesterday, Sunday, was the last day of the Christmas season, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Today is the first day of Ordinary Time, and so the Gospel at Mass brings us into the beginnings of Christ’s public life and work.

The Gospel just opened by telling us Christ came to Galilee.

In the Hebrew language, Galilee is not really a name, because galilee just means district.

The Bible does give a fuller name for the particular Galilee or District in the Gospels, calling it the Galilee or District of the Gentiles, because so many who lived there were not Jewish.

Well, here we are, you and I, and we are Gentiles.

We, too, make up a Galilee of Gentiles.

And today’s Gospel opens saying:  Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God.

Truly here at Mass, Christ comes to our Galilee, to us, proclaiming the Gospel of God.

What is the Gospel of God?

Christ sums it up in four short announcements.

The first two announcements make promises.

First:  This is the time of FULFILLMENT.

Second:  The KINGDOM of God is at hand.

The third and fourth announcements are demands.

The third:  REPENT.


We need to REPENT and BELIEVE in order to receive FULFILLMENT and enter the KINGDOM of God that is at hand.

Throughout his Gospel Christ unfolds the ways of repentance.

With new ways, he challenges US:  our THINKING, FEELINGS, CHOICES, and DEEDS.

Today, after beginning to tell people to repent— to choose new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving— he set up a real-life example.

He called Simon, Andrew, James, and John to leave their livelihoods, possessions, homes, families, co-workers, and neighbors.

For their new livelihood, new possession, new home, new family, new co-worker, and new neighbor they were to have Christ and his mission.

He is the new way for their thoughts, feelings, choices, and lives.

He is the reason and goal of repentance and faith, because in him the Kingdom of God is at hand.

He is the goal, because in him all history is fulfilled.

In today’s Gospel he said:  Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Simon, Andrew, James, John and all who follow Christ are to draw others into the life-giving nets of fulfillment in God’s Kingdom.
This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel.
This very hour here in his Gospel and his Eucharistic Body and Blood, Christ comes to our Galilee, and he challenges our thinking, feeling, choosing, and acting.

He calls us here to freely choose HIM as our new way.

God the King, whom angels worship, is here, and earthly nets cannot catch or hold him.

But like Simon, Andrew, James, and John, we can leave the nets and follow Christ.

That is up to us.

January 11, 2020

Baptism Made Jesus Dirty

John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,
"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

Sunday, January 12, 2020, is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

All four Gospels tell of Jesus receiving baptism in the Jordan River from John the Baptist.

Here is a compilation of their narratives.

Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee to John at the Jordan.
John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.
The one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'"
Jesus came to be baptized by John.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
“I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?"
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."
Then John allowed it.
After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and was praying.
Then the heavens were torn open, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."
John said,
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God."

What was this baptism that John was administering?

John owns that he was baptizing with mere water, but that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, John believed himself to be in need of receiving the baptism that Jesus could offer.

John also saw himself as unfit to baptize Jesus, and wondered that Jesus would seek baptism from him.

John was certainly not administering the Christian sacrament of Baptism in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

John offered a baptism of repentance, a way for people to show ritually both their change of mind against sin in their lives as well as their intention to turn anew to God.

The water of John’s baptismal ritual was a symbol of washing sin from their lives.

Jesus was without sin, and had no need of this baptism.

Nonetheless, he chose to enter into solidarity with sinners.

He chose to accept immersion, that is baptism, into the very water that was steeped and stained with the sin of the world.

That baptism made Jesus dirty with solidarity with our sins.

Like a lamb sacrificed as a sin offering, Jesus took onto himself the outpouring of human sin onto his innocent self.

“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Loaded with the sin of the world, he let sin die through himself, with him, in him on the Cross.

Rising in our humanity beyond sin and death, he has created our humanity anew and filled and vested through and through with the Holy Spirit of divine glory.

He now baptizes, immerses, steeps us in the solidarity of the everlastingly spotless and holy Name of the Father and of himself the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

January 06, 2020

“Turn. Love. Repeat.” Namely, Ongoing Conversion

Ongoing conversion is one of the vows of Benedictine monks, but all persons who are mindful in following Christ also seek their own ongoing conversion.

Turn. Love. Repeat. A path of ongoing conversion.

January 03, 2020

Woe to the world because of scandal! Scandals are sure to come,
but woe to him through whom they come!
[Mt. 18:7]

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold the man!" [John 19:5] Scandal.